Plans, takes, and mis-takes

Nathaniel KLEMP, Ray MCDERMOTT, Jason DUQUE, Matthew Doran THIBEAULT, Kimberly POWELL, Daniel J. LEVITIN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This paper analyzes what may have been a mistake by pianist Thelonious Monk playing a jazz solo in 1958. Even in a Monk composition designed for patterned mayhem, a note can sound out of pattern. We reframe the question of whether the note was a mistake and ask instead about how Monk handles the problem. Amazingly, he replays the note into a new pattern that resituates its jarring effect in retrospect. The mistake, or better, the mis-take, was “saved” by subsequent notes. Our analysis, supported by reflections from jazz musicians and the philosopher John Dewey, encourages a reformulation of plans, takes, mis-takes as categories for the interpretation of contingency, surprise, and repair in all human activities. A final section suggests that mistakes are essential to the practical plying and playing of knowledge into performances, particularly those that highlight learning. Copyright © 2016 Presses universitaires de Rennes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
JournalÉducation et didactique
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2016


Klemp, N., McDermott, R., Duque, J., Thibeault, M., Powell, K., & Levitin, D. J. (2016). Plans, takes, and mis-takes. Éducation et didactique, 10(3), 105-120. doi: 10.4000/educationdidactique.2598


  • Jazz
  • Mistakes
  • Learning
  • Dewey’s “metaphysics of transience”
  • Reflexivity


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